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We’re in the midst of a tectonic shift when it comes to the three cabins that make up most long-haul aircraft. While it used to be economy, business and first class for many airlines, first class has fallen out of favor in many parts of the world and business class cabins have improved immensely. Add in the rollout of premium economy, and today the lineup looks more like economy, premium economy and business class.

Commensurate with this improvement in business class cabins — from Qsuite to United Polaris to the closing door suites on British Airways’ new A350 aircraft — is an improvement in business class lounges and ground services. The latest innovation belongs to KLM, though we’re still not sure whether this development is positive or negative.

One Mile At A Time reports that KLM has opened a paid restaurant called “Blue Restaurant” inside its business class Crown Lounge at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS). The restaurant is open from 7am until 10pm, and while it is possible to make reservations in advance, you can only visit if you would otherwise have access to the lounge. The restaurant is run by chef Joris Bijdendijk of Michelin-starred RIJKS. You can find the menu for Blue by KLM online, and the prices are fairly expensive.

A Paid Lounge Restaurant: Good or Bad?

With the exception of certain spa and barber services, it’s unusual to pay extra for anything inside a business or first class lounge. If other airlines follow this trend — especially ones like United that currently offer free a la carte dining in its Polaris lounge — it could seriously devalue the entire concept of a predeparture lounge. Especially on shorter transatlantic flights between the US and Europe, many frequent travelers opt to eat in the lounge in order to maximize sleep on board. It would be a real shame to see United charging restaurant prices in its Polaris lounge, or to see American Airlines handing passengers in its Flagship First dining facility a bill at the end of the meal.

However there’s another way to look at this. This restaurant doesn’t replace the normal food offerings you’ll find in the business class lounge, which means premium passengers can still enjoy the same meal they would’ve otherwise had. Those looking for a slightly fancier meal have the option to spend additional money to sit down in a restaurant instead of sticking to the lounge buffet. More choice is always good for the consumer, even if one of the options costs money.

Featured photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

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